The Show-Off Cetacean
As whales go, humpbacks aren't the biggest—a "mere" 40-45 feet long compared to 60 foot sperm whales and 100 foot blue whales—the biggest animal that has ever lived. But humpbacks are arguably the best loved and they're definitely the biggest show offs of all the cetaceans.
No other whale puts on so many spectacular acrobatic performances. Humpbacks are known for their leaps—enormous bodies bursting up into the air and crashing down in massive eruptions of spray. They also seem to enjoy lobtailing—an explosive crashing of their tails on the surface—and they often exuberantly slap the water with their great wing like flippers.
Humpback whales are also famous for their highly choreographed bubble net feeding—10 to 12 gaping mouths bursting through the surface at once. In all these ways, humpback whales put on an awe-inspiring show that thrills first time whale watchers and seasoned research biologists alike.
There is simply nothing like watching these 40-50 ton animals go through their paces. And that's just what we can see from the surface. There's much more to a humpback whale's life story going on underwater, and it's just as fascinating as what's happening at the surface.
Photos by Richard Nelson